A STUTTER, FOLLOWING
By Michelle Taransky
A stutter, number after number, apologies, the resemblance of the forest
To the axe’s handle, one tree, how many lions can be carved from it,
Whose hand you held at the investigation, the funeral, the dedication, as
Evidence is placed in a glass case to be considered, see the sorry teller
Counting change, a crime and a crisis recounted in the same breaths,
Bird eating bird bones, the will to witness what you have been
Saving up, a robber behaving like a fallen fence, two streams that go
By one name, a condition developed in turn, in chorus with the crying
Hoarded eggshells that will rot, no matter how long, they spelled this
May change, into ways you consider it, which is to say, how not to feel
Broken, wings are the sum, and counting, and counting the present state,
A disaster is, waiting to happen, because the pile was made up, of branches
Not yet dead, and you refusing, to say tinder, to admit, potential for tender
There, I said it, said please ask who is about to tell, the particular was impossible,
To keep up, doing this, and this to our hiding place
(Today’s poem originally appeared in Barn Burned, Then (Omnidawn, 2009), and appears here today with permission from the poet.)
Michelle Taransky is the author of Barn Burned, Then, selected by Marjorie Welish for the 2008 Omnidawn Poetry Prize. Taransky works at Kelly Writers House, as Reviews Editor for Jacket2 and teaches writing and poetry at University of Pennsylvania. A chapbook, No, I Will Be In The Woods is just out from Brave Men Press.
Editor’s Note: Today’s poem is as dense and rich as a forest. Peel back each leaf to reveal more leaves. See how each branch is connected, how the earth is blanketed beneath your feet. Give yourself over to the relation of wood to what is carved from it, to what is small enough to be burned, to what lives and dies within.
A Note About the Omnidawn Series: Recently I attended a reading of Omnidawn-published poets at New York’s Poets House. The evening was filled with incredible talent and a palpable dedication to the craft of poetry that I wanted to share with you. I am honored that Omnidawn was willing to partner with me for this series, and am thankful to the poets who have agreed to share their work here so that I may help spread the word both about Omnidawn Publishing and about the talented writers they support.
Want to see more by and about Michelle Taransky?
Buy Barn Burned, Then
Q&A: American Poetry via Poetry Society of America
A conversation about “Barn Burned, Then” via The Offending Adam
New poems in Milk magazine